Pastor’s Pondering

I’ve been reflecting a lot in the past month about what it means to be called by God, and what it means to say yes to that call. I still remember very vividly what it was like when I first felt called by God. I was 16 and on a summer trip with my church youth group. I had so many big plans for my life already, I knew who I was going to be and what I was going to do. And then I encountered God. It’s not that I had this moment where I was meeting God for the first time, I grew up in the church and had both been taught about God and had moments of experiencing God throughout my childhood. But this encounter on that youth trip that summer was different. I felt the presence of God with me in a way I never had before, as real as if God’s arms were rocking me.   And I knew in that moment the love of God in a way I never had before, that love that crashes upon us like waves upon the sand. In that same moment of awareness of God’s presence and love was the total awareness that God was calling me to follow God as a pastor. I didn’t know what that meant; I had never bothered to consider what training and studying it took nor what that vocation really entailed. Quite frankly I was uninterested in being a pastor, I had different dreams and plans for my life. But more than anything in that moment I wanted to follow God, I wanted to follow that unimaginable love I had experienced. And so I said yes to stepping out into the unknown, I left my plans and dreams behind to see what plans and dreams God had in store to me. Looking back 12 years later I see what I couldn’t back then, I see how my own plans were like dreaming in black and white, while God’s plans are like living in full Technicolor. It’s not that following God is always easy, it’s not that we don’t have days when we question and doubt and wonder. But it’s that God’s imagination is so much bigger than ours, God’s dreams open us up to so much more life than our own.

When Jesus calls his first disciples he asks them to come follow him and promises that he will make them fishers of people. Peter and his brother Andrew are out fishing, they are doing what they know how to do, what provides a life for them and their families. They are doing what quite likely their parents and grandparents and great-grandparents had done all their lives. But Jesus comes to them and says, leave behind what you know and follow me to something bigger, something you can’t even imagine right now. There is know where Peter could have known that letting go of his nets and following Jesus would lead him down this path where he walks on water—until he sinks, where he goes around the known world bringing the news and teaching of Jesus to thousands, where he encounters God so profoundly that he is willing to have his life turned totally upside down for the love of God. God comes to each one of us and asks us to follow, to leave behind what we know and what we have planned, to be open to the newness God wants to bring into our lives. One of my favorite moments in the Ordination service comes at the very end, when the Bishop asks everyone who has been called by God to stand. It is not just the newly ordained clergy nor the bishop nor the pastors who stand, but everyone. Because God has called us all. God continues to call us all. How have you experienced the call of God in your life? And how is God calling you today? Sometimes like Peter and Andrew we experience God’s call as a clear and decisive moment. But other times we experience that divine call like a subtle nudging, something that bothers us that we just can’t quite ignore. Sometimes we experience it like a kind of restlessness or discontent. Sometimes we experience God’s call as something tugging on our hearts. But however we experience it God comes to each of us and says follow, follow, follow. Leave the old nets and boats behind and come learn a new way, follow God to something new, something you can’t even imagine or fully understand yet. So take a moment or maybe a few moments to ponder, reflect, and pray: how is God calling you today?

-Pastor Chelsea

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